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Byproduct of Iran Conflict: Increased Surveillance and Detained Iranian-Americans

Posted by on January 11, 2020 in Government, Politics, Spying and Surveillance with 0 Comments

Image Credit: Waking Times

By Derrick Broze | The Mind Unleashed

While the world anxiously watches the situation in Iraq unfold, it’s important to understand domestic byproducts of the ongoing military conflict between the United States and Iran.

Specifically, the tensions between the two nations have lead to an increase in the questioning of travelers of Iranian descent who attempt to cross U.S. borders. There have also been reports of police departments exploiting the hysteria to increase surveillance and security measures.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a statement noting their opposition to any “targeting of people for digital surveillance based on their race, religion, or nationality, at our border and in our interior.” As the Mind Unleashed previously reported, on January 4 more than 60 people of Iranian descent, including U.S. citizens, were held at the border between Canada and Washington state for many hours and questioned. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) denied that it detained or refused entry to Iranians based on their national origin despite multiple reports from travelers. According to a Buzzfeed report, a CBP officer coerced at least one U.S. citizen into providing the password to his smartphone before taking the phone away for two hours.

EFF has long argued, including in Alasaad v. McAleenan, that travelers have significant privacy interests in their digital data and that the U.S. Constitution protects such interests at the border,” EFF writes. “We’ve also argued that these rights are not suspended if an international traveler happens to be of a particular race, religion, or nationality. Indeed, digital surveillance at the border, if predicated on these factors, is both unconstitutional and a moral outrage.”

Following Donald Trump’s decision to launch a missile strike into Iraq and kill Iranian General Soleimani, the New York City Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department announced a boost in security of New York City and Los Angeles. EFF warns that there is reason to be concerned this security boosting could lead to an increase of police surveillance of Iranian communities.

EFF notes that in 2012 both the NYPD and the Newark Police Department settled legal claims brought by civil liberties groups opposing police surveillance and infiltration of Muslims in their cities. The surveillance included shops, restaurants, mosques, and schools. EFF also reminds Americans that in the build up to the Iraq war, the FBI targeted Iraqi Americans for surveillance.

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